Qatar drew their first game of the 2019 Copa America last night against Paraguay at the iconic Estadio Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
Drawn into Group B alongside Colombia and Argentina as well as the aforementioned Paraguay, the guest team are considered as rank outsiders for progression to the knockout stage.
Their situation got even more difficult as early as the second minute when a handball decision went against the Asian side, giving Paraguay the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot. Veteran striker Oscar Cardozo stepped up and made no mistake, slamming the ball down the middle into the roof of the net.
Both sides spurned a number of chances in the remainder of the first half. Paraguay thought they had doubled their lead five minutes after half-time when Cardozo arrived at the back post to convert, but Derlis Gonzales had been deemed offside in the build-up play and the goal was subsequently disallowed.
However, Gonzales would have a goal of his own to celebrate in the 56th minute, when he found himself unmarked outside the penalty area faced with the quickly receding Qatar defense. Sensing the opportunity, the Santos forward managed to curl his long-range effort beyond Saad Al Sheeb and into the back of the net.
It would take ten minutes for Qatar to strike back with a screamer of their own, as Ali Almoez hit an incredible curling strike from the edge of the box that nestled io the far corner of the net to give the West Asian side hope of a comeback.
Their resurgence was completed in the 77th minute when an attempted one-on-one finish from Boualem Khouki was parried by the goalkeeper, but the ball eventually found it’s way into the back of the net when Juan Rodrigo Rojas was unable to clear it off the line.
The remarkable turnaround saw Qatar pick up their first point of the competition, putting them in contention for an unlikely qualification to the quarter-finals.
Elsewhere in the group, Argentina slumped to a shock opening day defeat against Colombia. Goals from Roger Martinez and Duvan Zapata went unresponded to by the Albiceleste, as Lionel Messi and his teammates have now put what seemed like a likely qualification in jeopardy.
Qatar will continue their campaign on Wednesday, June 19th when they take on group leaders Colombia, while Argentina will be looking to rescue their campaign against Paraguay.